AMAZING PEACE

A CHRISTMAS POEM

Angelou’s poem considers peace as a joyous concept that rises up during the Christmas season, drawing in and including those of all faiths, sweeping everyone along with its power. This visual interpretation of the poem follows the residents of a small town as they trek through deep snow to gather at their town hall for a holiday celebration. Although there are lighted Christmas trees throughout the town, this particular celebration is a nondenominational community dinner and candle-lighting, with people of many faiths and backgrounds joining together in peaceful solidarity. Johnson and Fancher’s understated, mixed-media illustrations use fabric scraps for plaid and checked coats on the townspeople, with darker fabrics for buildings and thick brushstrokes of white paint over cloth for the snow. Although doubtlessly well-intended, the author’s invitation to Buddhists, Confucians, Jains, Jews and Muslims—not to mention “Nonbelievers”—to join in the celebration of “the Birth of Jesus Christ / Into the great religions of the world” is at best tone-deaf and at worst frankly assimilationist. (Picture book/poetry. 6 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-375-84150-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2008

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

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THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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BRONZEVILLE BOYS AND GIRLS

Brooks’s gloriously universal celebration of African-American childhood here receives a respectful and joyous treatment from one of the pre-eminent illustrators of the same. Readers coming to “Narcissa,” “Beulah at Church” and “Marie Lucille” for the first time will discover them accompanied by Ringgold’s trademark folk-art interpretations, the expressive brown figures depicted for the most part as vignettes against bright backgrounds. They show a Bronzeville that bustles with activity, single-family homes sharing the streets with apartment buildings and the occasional vacant lot. The children run, braids and arms out straight, and contemplate in turns, their exuberance tempered by the solemnity of childhood. While it’s regrettable that occasionally the specificity of the illustration robs a verse of its universality—the “special place” referenced in “Keziah” is shown to be underneath the kitchen table, for instance—the overall ebullience of the images more than compensates. There is a drop of truth in every single playful, piercing stanza, and anything that brings these poems to a new audience is to be cheered; a lovely package indeed. (Picture book/poetry. 7+)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-06-029505-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2006

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